When Skies are Gray

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In my last post I mentioned almost casually that my mother-in-law has cancer again, and then basically asked everyone to leave me alone about it. I wasn't ready to talk about it then {not even close}, but I'm going to try to talk about it now.

Maybe the words that I find today will feel inadequate again, and maybe that will make me feel like I'm dishonoring a woman I love and admire so much. But maybe if I keep waiting until my words are perfect, I'll end up never saying anything.


I find myself here again, trying to find words to share with you all after being absent from this blog for so long. I feel the need to sum up everything that has happened since I last posted, to do justice to the length of time and its significance, but that seems too big a task for me to accomplish in the moments that I can scrape together. I'm afraid that writing has fallen into the cracks between cleaning macaroni and cheese off the floor, toddler story time and assembly-line-style diaper changes. It's not that I haven't wanted to come here and share my life, I have. I love how many of you have reached out to tell me that whenever I'm ready to come back, you'll be out there. I so appreciate it. Thank you.

I've started this post many times, several on the computer and infinity in my head. (This one is actually being typed on my phone, just to mix it up). Words, appropriate and worthy words, have always escaped me. It's just that, when your mother-in-law has cancer, when doctors say that her chances of surviving the next five years are 20 percent, sometimes there are no words.

You want to say things like: I'm in denial that anything is actually happening, but there's an undercurrent of stress in my life that causes me to lash out at everyone close to me. When I take a shower I fantasize about someone giving me a really good reason to yell at them because I don't have an outlet for my anger.

Or: My heart is breaking and I ugly cry whenever I think about the possibility that my children, who have the most beautiful relationship with their grandmother, may never remember her or how much or how well she loved them.

Or just: Every time someone makes a joke about cancer, I want to punch them in the face.

But none of those options encompasses your grief, how your heart is simultaneously trying to hold on to hope and guard itself against enormous pain. You keep telling yourself this isn't about you! but also you get irrationally irritated at people who call "How's your mother-in-law doing?" across a crowded hallway at church, even though you know they're just trying to be supportive, because you have no idea how to respond.

"She's my hero" is what you would say, if you were being completely honest. "She's the strongest woman I've ever met."

You cry on the phone when your mother asks you, "when it comes down to it, would you rather have the best mother-in-law for a few years, or an okay one for the rest of your life?" and your children huddle around you to give you soft little hugs and pats on the arm even though they don't know why you're sad.

You find yourself crying at Cheerios commercials for fifteen minutes at a time, sobs that leave you exhausted and with a headache.

All of that has been a large part of my life lately. Even now that I've finally written it all out, my brain is screaming at me, "erase! Erase! Erase!" because these words aren't good enough. I love my mother-in-law like I love my own mother, and what could I possibly come up with that would do justice to what any of us in her family is feeling? It will have to do, though.


Cancer hasn't been all of my life for the past three months, of course. With my kiddos, I haven't been allowed to dwell on anything for too long. Block towers need to be built and Goodnight Moon needs be read five times in a row, thank goodness. Christian keeps making me laugh day after day, and The Walking Dead just started again on Sunday, in case you hadn't heard. And thinking about our baby boy coming in December has saved my spirits from falling. He gives me something to look forward to, a reason to be grateful that time is still moving.